A 709 carat uncut diamond discovered in March 2017 by a group of miners in Sierra Leone fetched $6.5m at a New York auction on Monday (December 4, 2017).
The stone was found by one pastor Emmanuel Momoh in Koryardu, located in the country’s eastern Kono district. It was the biggest diamond in the country’s history and the 14th largest ever found in the world.
In an interview with the BBC, the pastor defended the decision to handover the diamond to the government instead of selling it to middlemen. According to him, the community stands to lose if the middlemen were involved.
“We lack a lot of things. We don’t have a good road network, we don’t have better schools, or drinking water,” Momoh said. The auction was managed by Rapaport Group, a network of diamond companies.
“There’s a reason God gave these diamonds to the poorest people in the world and made the richest people want them. This is Tikun Olam (Hebrew for correcting the world), this is making the world a better place,” Martin Rapaport, chairman of Rapaport Group said in October this year.
But a Reuters/BBC journalist in the country is reporting that the $6.5m price was lower than how much an earlier auction had priced the diamond.
“Sierra Leone’s 709-carat diamond auction in New York was a real bummer!! The Freetown auction came up with $7.07 million. Despite huge amounts spent on insuring the stone to take it abroad and all the other expenses, it was sold for $6.5 million,” Umaru Fofano wrote in a Twitter post.
The December 4 auction was the second attempt by the government to sell the gem known as the “Peace Diamond”, it had earlier in May 2017, rejected the highest bid of $7.8 million at an initial auction in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown.